Arkansas is green, brown, and purple. Its old wire fences are covered with growth. Vines and bushes are tangled and messy, like a boy’s hair after he’s come in from the playground. Fighting and rolling around in the dirt. It stays messy all day. In class he scratches his head with a pencil and some grass or dried leaves fall out onto the desk behind him. At home his mother greets him with hands that run through his hair, almost pulling, and he says ouch as he pulls away before submitting to her grasp. They stay in an embrace as she kisses his forehead and continues to run her fingers along the road of his scalp. Running her fingers through the vines and the bushes.
Arkansas is flat at first. But as you keep driving you get tucked into its womb. Its mountains. There is a connection and a safety as you drive through, driving along the winding path. You think of returning to your mother’s womb. The only safe place. Your whole life you feel disconnected in the arms of the people you’ve loved most and with whom you should feel the most connected. But these mountains’ve got that feeling beat. Your mother’s womb. These Mountains.
Jessica Sabatini is from Arkansas. She has a green jacket and Arkansas is green. As the writer I feel obligated to tell you who Jessica Sabatini is; but she’s mine, not yours. I’ll paint a blue dot on her face so you can never see her like I do. Because her nails graze lightly against my scalp and she traces her fingers along mine. She wears her green jacket when it gets cold and I sit with her under broken Christmas lights smoking our cigarettes. We go inside. We go outside and she puts her jacket back on. She smiles at me for no reason. We go inside. I do not feel disconnected. I drive through the mountains and as the sun goes down the shrubs turn green-gold like Caesar’s laurel wreath.
I share a bed with her. Her parent’s bed. I roll over and see her face and, for the first time, I know what it is like to wake up to someone.